Sun King Brewing grows 50% in 2012, plans to invest $3 million over next three years

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UPDATE: “Northern Indiana launches the week of February 25th.”

(Indianapolis, IN) – News surfaced in January that Sun King Brewing Company was working with local municipalities on a funding package as part of a multi-million dollar expansion project to boost capacity (and add jobs). The expansion comes less than four years after Sun King rolled out its first keg back in July of 2009. The Indiana-only brewery is one of the fastest craft breweries ever to reach the 15,000 barrel-per-year mark (which it hit in December), graduating it to ‘regional’ brewery status.

We caught up with Co-Founder, Clay Robinson to learn more about what Sun King is working on…

Q) What is the planned investment cost for the expansion, in total?

A) We are planning to invest between upwards of three million by 2016.

Q) And what about the public funding?

A) Performance-based incentives / tax abatements of up to 240k and training incentives based on hiring of up to 60k.

Q) How many will you be hiring?

A) We are planning to on hiring around 20 new people in the next three years… Taking us to between 55 and 60 full time employees.

Q) How many barrels did you produce in 2012, what is your 2013 projection and what is capacity looking like currently?

A) In 2012, we produced a little over 15,000 barrels for 50% growth. Our goal for 2013 is 20,000 to 23,000 barrels. At the end of 2012, we had capacity for 23,000 and with the tanks we are adding between now and spring, we’ll have capacity to for around 28,000.

Q) What will capacity be by 2016 and how will it be phased in over the next 3 years? Same brewhouse? Just adding tanks?

A) We are planning on adding a new fermentation cellar to our existing facility that will be capable of housing up to eight 240 barrel fermenters. Initially, it will only hold two and we’ll use the remaining space for warehousing cans and kegs. With the first two, we’ll be capable of getting to an easy 30,000 barrels of annual production while continuing to produce a lot of seasonal and specialty beers. We need some excess capacity to keep up with demand in the summer, so while the new room and tanks could take us past 30k, they are there largely to allow us space to keep up with our three house beers and continue making a lot of seasonals. Same brewhouse, but adding some ancillary vessels to increase our throughput.

Q) More of a clarification, are you guys impacted by Indiana’s 30k-barrel production limit in the same way that Three Floyds is? Or would you be based on your plans over the next 3 years?

A) We are subject to the same laws as the Floyds. The silly part is that an Indiana brewery can continue self-distributing and/or operating a brew pub so long as any beer over 30,000 barrels is sent to a distributor out of state. We’re working on all of the infrastructure to be able to produce 60,000 barrels and depending on how the Legislature decides to handle things, we have options. We would prefer to sell all of our beer in Indiana and will work hard to make that possible.

Q) Plans for additional distribution?

A) We plan to continue self-distributing in the 50-70 mile oval around Indianapolis. We have finalized our distribution agreements and I am happy to report that we will be working with North Vernon Beverage, who will be handling the Southwest portion of the state and Indiana Beverage, who will handle the Northern third of Indiana. We will continue to self-distribute central Indiana and are holding off on the remainder of Indiana to ensure that demand for our beer does not outstrip supply.

This has been a big decision for us, but we found that both companies share our independent spirit and have promised to care for our beer in the same manner that we are accustomed to.

As for other states, Robinson recently told BeerPulse that Sun King had considered opening up the Chicago market but ultimately “decided to abandon the possibility” citing problematic structure in Illinois’ three-tier system.

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